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Three Green Certifications Are Better Than One

Key Points
  • Arup’s Boston office earned WELL Gold, LEED v4 Platinum and Fitwell.
  • It's the first WELL certified project with dynamic circadian lighting controls.
  • A pre- and post-occupancy survey was developed by in-house psychologists.

The International WELL Building Institute (IWBI) now has more than 100 million square feet of buildings registered and certified under the WELL Building Standard (WELL). This standard focuses on seven key elements of a healthy building—air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort and mind.

Arup kitchen

One of these WELL-certified buildings, Arup's Boston headquarters, also achieved LEED v4 Platinum, with 81 out of 110 points. The 16,000 square-foot facility originally was targeted to earn WELL Silver but actually achieved Gold. How? "Instead of focusing on chasing points," says Mark Walsh-Cooke, Principal, PE, LEED AP BD+C, "we did the right thing for the project by making good design decisions along the way."

Several firsts

Arup’s Boston office is the first project to receive WELL Certification at any level in New England and the fourth WELL Gold project in the U.S. It's also the first WELL certified project with dynamic circadian lighting controls. Other features helping to earn the Gold level include:

  • Sunlit open-plan offices provide all staff with access to city views
  • Motorized sit-to-stand workstations for all staff
  • End-of-pipe water filtration reduces chlorine in drinking water
  • WELL-focused surveys developed with in-house psychologists
  • Custom-designed indoor environmental quality testing in real time
  • Filtrated ventilation optimizes air quality and responds to occupancy levels
  • Map of healthy lunch spots within a five-minute walk of the office provided
  • New HVAC system with advanced metering for more efficient air distribution

Arup's location is another major benefit because it's close to public transit. The design team was enlisted early to look at possible locations. The company also earned Fitwel certification at the three star level.

It takes a village

Designing a WELL/LEED building isn't easy and involves extensive collaboration. Arup used several outside consulting firms with expertise in LEED and wellness design. It's also important to have clearly defined objectives for the building and it's management and maintenance staff.

An integrated project delivery approach was critical to success; it required the team to work closely with the building landlord, general contractor and furnishings supplier. Arup also collaborated with facilities staff, human resources and vendors to incorporate policies promoting health and wellness. "Ultimately, project success is measured by the performance of the built space and its occupants," says Walsh-Cooke.

Arup also implemented a crowdsourcing site to allow the entire staff be involved with the design as it progressed. This helped in the decision to provide sit-to-stand desks for everyone (WELL only requires 30 percent). In addition to employee buy-in, the end result is a happier staff proud to show the space off to clients and family.

Would Arup go for both certifications again? The answer is a resounding yes. "LEED v4 and WELL complement each other," says Walsh-Cooke. "You'll have a much better outcome if you do both."

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